Las Vegas Sun

November 23, 2014

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Bail set at $2.2 million in fatal crash

A Las Vegas man accused in a hit-and-run accident that killed three people Sunday night will remain jailed on $2.2 million bail.

Justice of the Peace Jennifer Togliatti set Mitchell Dettloff's bail during a volatile and standing-room-only bail hearing this morning.

Dettloff, 35, is accused of causing the accident that took the lives of Holly Barton, 33, her son, Benjamin Barton, 8, and Brian Lee Cooper, 30.

According to police, the driver of a black car was traveling on U.S. 95 north of Craig Road when he lost control and drove off the roadway. The car returned to the highway and forced a pickup, driven by James Barton, across the median and head-on into another pickup, driven by Cooper.

The driver of the vehicle then fled, according to police.

This morning, Deputy District Attorney Bruce Nelson said Dettloff took off and hid from police for three days because he was a coward and for another, "more sinister" reason.

"Maybe he fled because he was drunk, he was high or he was both," Nelson said.

If true, Nelson said, Dettloff likely realized the alcohol or drugs would show up in his system unless he delayed his arrest long enough for them to dissipate.

Alcohol or drugs would also explain why Dettloff screamed obscenities at his dying victims before he fled the scene, Nelson said.

In addition, Nelson noted that police learned that Dettloff had ripped attorney Mace Yampolsky's ad out of a phone book -- an ad that clearly states Yampolsky defends people accused of driving under the influence.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Gary Booker noted that Dettloff was arrested on the last day of his registration at the Rio hotel, and the day he received money from his girlfriend's relatives in Hawaii.

Had the police not arrested him that day there is a chance Dettloff would have taken off again, Booker said.

The prosecutors asked for a $4 million bail to be set.

Yampolsky said he made arrangements with Dettloff to turn himself in today. As for the money, that was for his fee, Yampolsky said.

Yampolsky noted that his client hasn't been charged with DUI -- because the prosecutors can't prove it.

His client called him after the accident to ensure his rights were protected, Yampolsky said.

"If there's something wrong with that, then let's just throw out the U.S. Constitution," Yampolsky said.

The incident was simply an accident, Yampolsky said. A bail of $4 million would be ridiculous.

"Mr. Detloff didn't have a gun and shoot someone. Mr. Detloff didn't have a knife and kill someone. Mr. Detloff didn't sell drugs to children," Yampolsky said.

The prosecutors told Togliatti that after allegedly hiding his vehicle in his garage, Dettloff spoke with the police on the phone, reportedly telling them they can't prove he was driving the car.

Booker said that, if convicted, Dettloff could receive a maximum of 96 years in prison.

Dettloff faces three charges of involuntary manslaughter and four counts each of leaving the scene of an accident and reckless driving.

James Barton remains in critical condition at University Medical Center.

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